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Friday, June 15, 2018

Creating Cripples, Part 3

In the last two posts, we have considered how people are trained, equipped to successfully carry out the responsibilities of their work.  Whether it be a professional, such as a doctor, lawyer, or accountant; or whether it be one who works as a mechanic, mowing lawns or digging ditches; all are equipped following a similar process.  They are told what to do, instruction.  Someone checks their work either as they are doing it or else after it is complete observation.  They are given feedback on how that work was done and possibly given pointers on how it can be done more effectively critique.
Creating Cripples, Part 3
The contention here is that the one place that does not happen consistently is in the Body of Christ. 

So what do we do instead?  We lecture.

Whether it be Sunday morning, Wednesday fellowship or Bible study, a small group, etc.  A pervasive pattern is that one teaches and the others listen.

So what happens if there is no one to teach? 

What happens if the pastors and teachers are all arrested and either jailed or executed?  That does happen.

What happens if you are not able to go down to the local Christian bookstore and purchase a commentary on a book of the Bible?  In much of the world that is not possible.

If all we do is proclaim the Word, teach from a lectern, a chair, a book that leads someone through a study that we have already done, or have them watch a video on a device, then we are not equipping them to stand on their own in the Scripture.  Those whose only input is what has been described, are not able to open their Bible and with a blank sheet of paper and a pen begin to successfully study God’s Word.

Teaching a person this way makes that person dependent on more of the same teaching.  In a real sense that dependency has crippled their ability to independently walk with God.

If I am reading the Great Commission correctly, Matthew 28:18 – 20 (here @ Bible Gateway); Luke 24:46 – 49 (here @ Bible Gateway); John 17:18, 20:21 (here @ Bible Gateway), and 2 Timothy 2:2 (here @ Bible Gateway) – and at a significant level the passage we started this with, Ephesians 4:11 – 16 (here @ Bible Gateway).  Then it is the responsibility of leaders not to share what they know, necessarily, rather, it is to equip those to whom the Lord has called them to serve to be able to learn what they know through personal engagement in the Word of God.

To do otherwise, it seems to me, is to perpetuate the creation of dependent cripples in the Body of Christ.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Creating Cripples, Part 2

Two days ago I suggested that we are not doing well as a Body in equipping the saints for the work of service, Ephesians 4:11 – 16 (here @ Bible Gateway).
Creating Cripples, Part 2
I used the example of pilots, doctors, engineers, and accountants as examples of how people are equipped for their professions.  I closed the last post by suggesting that professionals are not the only career paths that are equipped in the way I described, essentially instruction, observation, critique.

Consider any job, any task that is performed for a wage.  Regardless of its complexity, the one who performs it will be told what to do, their work will be checked, and they will be given feedback on how they did.  Whether they are a mechanic or a garbage man, that process will be followed in some form.

Now ask yourself, when was the last time that happened with you in your community of faith.  Let’s consider a simple basic of the Christian life.  Say, having a consistent devotional.  Were you shown how to do that, instructed?  Did someone do it with you to show you how, instruction?  Did someone ask or sit with you to see how you were doing your devotional, observation?  Did they give you encouragement or suggest ways to make your devotional more effective, critique?

Yes?  You are in a significant minority.

No?  Your experience is normal.

If we are not equipping in this manner, what then are we doing and how is it working out?

We will consider that in the next post.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Creating Cripples

One of, if not the core, passages in Ephesians (here @ Bible Gateway) is Ephesians 4:11 – 16 (here @ Bible Gateway).  In no uncertain terms, Paul declares the purpose of leadership in the Body of Christ.  It is not to do the work of service, ministry, rather it is to equip those in the Body, the saints, for that ministry.
Creating Cripples
How are we doing on that?

Much of what I have experienced in the western church has been lecture based.  Whether it be a Sunday morning message, a Sunday school, a Wednesday night meeting, or a small group, there is often one who shares and the others either listen and take notes or else respond to what he says.

That seems to be what serves as equipping in the minds of many leaders.

However, I am willing to wager my next year’s wage (truthfully, not a big wager) that is not the way they were equipped to earn their livelihood.

For example.  I was, for a time, an instructor pilot in the Air Force.  To train pilots we gave them a book to read (true), and then sent them out on the flight line to fly the planes (true or false?).

Should we have followed that process, we would have created multiple smoking holes at the end of the runway.  That is not the way pilots were equipped, trained to fly.  Sure they were given a book that explained how the plane worked.  They also had multiple classes that included tests on the material.  Then, an instructor gets in the plane with them, demonstrating, and walking them through each task they needed to complete to successfully fly the plane.  Then, when they were performing those tasks, the instructor would correct their mistakes as well as offer other techniques for completing the task successfully and safely.

In all of the disciplines of which I am aware be it medical, engineering, accounting, the equipping, training is similar.  Men and women are taught, they practice, and they are given feedback about what they did correctly, what they need to do to correct, and thoughts on what they could do differently to make their practice more effective.  By the way, all of their careers are called practices.

But it is not just “professional” careers that follow this model…

This is getting longer than I anticipated.  We will finish this tomorrow…

Thursday, June 7, 2018

God’s Intention

If you do not journal, you should.  Why?  To remember what our Father has done in our lives as well as the context of what He did and how you initially responded.
God’s Intention
I was just reviewing some of last year’s entries in my journal.  Last year contained a violent swirl of emotion.  Three births, two deaths.

I was reading through the entries in March.  Two months after my dad passed away and seven days prior to the birth of our fourth granddaughter.  Her mother had just been readmitted into MD Anderson, she was getting aggressive chemo, and we were in prayer for her and for the baby, not knowing how any of this was going to play out.

It was a hard, emotionally difficult and draining time.

I wrote, “He only takes us through that which makes us more like His Son and equips us for what He has us to do.”

As I read and write that, three passages come to mind.  Psalm 139:3 (here @ Bible Gateway), Ephesians 2:10 (here @ Bible Gateway), and Hebrews 12:10 – 11 (here @ Bible Gateway) – just glanced back at the journal and two of those passages are written out after what I wrote with a third, Ephesians 1:4 (here @ Bible Gateway).

What comforted us, what settled us, was the certain knowledge that the things that the Lord brought into our lives were intentional.  They were intended to shape us, to mold us, to equip us for the tasks He had prepared for us.

That was and is informed by studies we have done on God’s sovereignty and God’s love.  For us, those two attributes of God were an anchor through some very difficult times.  Reflecting on this, it occurs to me that we need to equip our children both physical and spiritual with the certain knowledge of both God’s sovereignty and love.

It seems to me that is what will equip them to navigate the painfully difficult paths of this life.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

For Your Sake

Have you ever done something really good in order to get noticed?  Or have you ever wanted to know how you performed as you shared something you found in the Word?  Wondered if you made an impact?  Wondered if anyone noticed?  Probably not, but you may know people who have.
For Your Sake
1 Thessalonians 1:5 (here @ Bible Gateway) is the last three clauses in one of Paul’s famously long sentences.  This one runs from 1 Thessalonians 1:2 – 5 (here @ Bible Gateway).  Three words riveted my attention this time through.  The last three in the NASB translation:

“…for your sake.”

That prepositional phrase modifies – well, I have been mentally diagraming the sentence for the past several minutes…  It either modifies “proved” or further modifies the phrase “to be among you”.  Not sure without spending a lot of time working on the structure.

The point is, Paul was not there for accolades.  He wasn’t interested in recognition for his service.  He wasn’t looking to gain brownie points from the Lord.  He was in Thessalonica for the sake of the Thessalonian people.

They figured that out.

They figured out that they should have the same attitude as the one who brought them the good news of the gospel.  So, following Paul’s example, they became an example to the surrounding areas, Macedonia and Achaia.

It wasn’t about Paul when he was engaged in equipping the Thessalonian believers.  It wasn’t about them as they shared with their neighbors.

The truth of the gospel, the incredible offer of the absolution, forgiveness of our intentional, consistent rebellion against a holy and loving God; is too valuable to tarnish with a misplaced hunger for recognition for sharing that lifeline to one who is condemned.

Yet it seems there are some who are engaged for their own credit.

Truth be known.  I have fought that internal struggle myself.  Still do.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Misled

Job 12:16 (here @ Bible Gateway) is an intriguing passage.  On the one hand, the rebuke of Job at the end of the book could call into question the truthfulness of Job’s assertion here.  On the other hand, there is other evidence in the body of Scripture that what Job says is true.
Misled
For our purposes here, we will stipulate that what he says here is the case, that both those who are misled and those who mislead them belong to Him.

That being the case, what are some implications?  One implication would be that He is in control of the misled and the misleaders.

We see this in the “trial” and crucifixion of Jesus.  The false witnesses, the high priest, Pilate, were are either misled or misleaders and yet were instrumental in bringing about the sacrifice of Christ which was necessary for the forgiveness of our sins and the restoration of our relationship with our creator.

We are to be diligent in studying, practicing, and proclaiming the truth both to our families and to those in our spheres of influence.  In that process, it will be the case that we will encounter those who are misleading or have been misled. 

Personally, I need to remember these are His.  It does not serve any purpose for me to be angry with them, James 1:20 (here @ Bible Gateway).  What I am to do, what I am directed by the Word to do is to gently correct them, 2 Timothy 2:24 – 25 (here @ Bible Gateway).  Truthfully, that is not my normal first response.  The less effective anger is what seems to be my default.

Working on that.